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After successful test fire, BRP Ramon Alcaraz warship heads for Panama Canal


(Updated 5:02 p.m.) After a successful test firing of its main weapons system, the Philippine Navy's newest warship is heading for its next stop, the Panama Canal.
 
Philippine embassy to Washington defense and naval attache Capt. Elson Aguilar said the BRP Ramon Alcaraz will have an almost two-month journey to the Philippines.
 
"The Alcaraz left Charleston, South Carolina, on Monday, more than a year after it was acquired from the US Coast Guard. Aside from Mayport and Panama, the Alcaraz will also stop in San Diego, Honolulu and Guam enroute to Manila," the Philippine Embassy said in an article posted on its website Wednesday, Philippine time.
 
Earlier Wednesday, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz successfully test fired its main weapons system off the coast of Florida.
 
Capt. Ernesto Baldovino, the vessel's commanding officer, described the weapons system as "very reliable,” and having a "high degree of accuracy."
 
Baldovino, in his report to Aguilar, said the BRP Ramon Alcaraz’s Italian-made Oto Melara rapid-fire cannon fired 15 rounds, including three for calibration and 12 at floating targets two to three miles away.
 
The cannon can shoot as many as 80 76-mm rounds per minute, the embassy noted.
 
“Captain Baldovino was more than satisfied with how the Oto Melara performed,” Aguilar said, adding the cannon did not misfire during the test-firing.

According to Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Gerald Fabic on Wednesday, the boat was also able to go its maximum speed of 25 knots "with satisfactory result."
 
Militants react
 
But left-leaning militant groups in the Philippines were not quite impressed, saying the BRP Ramon Alcaraz showed the Philippine government's “perpetual dependence” on US military aid in the form of second-hand weapons and equipment.
 
“The reason why the Philippines cannot defend its territorial integrity, and why we have no credible minimum defense posture, is because our government has been dependent on the US for the last half-century. Even in military matters, we continue to be dictated on by the US," Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said.
 
He added this and the absence of economic development had prevented the Philippines from building a capacity for external defense.
 
Reyes said the BRP Ramon Alcaraz is a refurbished Hamilton class cutter that hails from the Vietnam War era.
 
"It is a naval hand-me down meant to show the supposed benefits of a lopsided Mutual Defense Treaty with the US,” he added. —KG/BM, GMA News
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